Monday, March 11, 2013

Conflict – Get to the heart of what matters – not to who is wrong

Recently I was interviewed by Matt Townsend on Sirius FM Radio. We were talking about conflict resolution and some of the best tips to manage conflict in families. The same principles I shared, work for workplace conflicts as well. A relationship is a relationship. We must be respectful, we must show compassion, and understanding is critical.

One of the listeners called in and asked a question about defusing conflict. Here are the tips I provided:

1) Watch how you show up in the conversation. If you show up to get even or be right, the conversation will take in a defensive and combative tone. If you show up to understand and find resolution the conversation will be more collaborative.

2) Anticipate the “push back” and handle with ease, respect and dignity. The push back is the moment someone reacts, emotionally, for example, a person becomes defensive. Usually this involves “the hook” or the trigger word, and then leads to the back and forth reactions, with absolute no listening or understanding happening.  This is what you want to avoid:

3) Prepare. Sadly people spend more time choosing their outfits or planning their holidays then they do preparing for the most important conversations in a relationship. Prepare and show up to understand and resolve, not to win.

4) When the conversation gets repetitive, let the other person know that you understand or that you heard them.  Remove the sarcasm from the words and the conversation.

5) Negotiate ground rules (I call them courtesies) for your conversations; agree to how you each want to manage these conversations in your relationship. Choose a word that resonates for you both when there is a need to repair and do the “do over” or “redo.” This could be a simple as “ I need a chance to do a mulligan” - a mulligan is a do over. Whether the conversation is about how many times you have had to unload the dishwasher or who did or did not fill up the car with gas, why the report was not completed on time, or why the finances are in chaos, communication is key to getting through it.


Get to the heart of what matters, not to the heart of who's right.

Don’t keep score, but if you must and can’t help yourself, keep score of all the wonderful things the person does for you….. I’m sorry.  Two important words that go a long way.


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